As a tour manager for Rocky Road Travel, I spend a good few of my precious hours each year in the sky. While not quite having the means to fly business just yet (still working on that one), I’ve learned to pick up some insider tricks in order to make a 10 hour flight in cattle class seem like a breeze.
Check in online and Pre-book your seat. Seems obvious but so many of us overlook this essential aspect of flying long haul. You can always check-in at the airport but you take the risk that all the good seats will be gone. Pre book the seat and you will have the pick of the plane when it comes to choosing where you want to sit.
Choose the rear of the aircraft. I always pre-book at the back, usually the very back row. The only risk you take here is the potential for toilet odour. If it’s a new plane then this shouldn’t be an issue. At the back row you don’t have any toddlers kicking the back of your seat and it’s usually the quietest part of the aircraft. Airlines tend to automatically allocate seating towards the front of the plane for balance and safety reasons. On long haul jets, the back of the plane houses the food and drink area also so when you’re feeling like your glass of red needs a top up then you don’t have to go far.
Board last. To hell with your priority boarding thank you very much. I’ll get on last. Keep in mind that the vast majority of long haul international flights are rarely 100% full. There will be unoccupied seats. I sit at the boarding gate and wait for the masses to load on, then I wait for the stragglers to arrive out of breath and panicking. Just before they close the gate, I board and stroll to the rear of the jet scanning the empties as I go. 90% of the time the unoccupied seats are at the back. If I see a row of 2 or 3 I place myself there immediately. I know they’re unoccupied because I was the last to board.
Utilize your full space & dress warm. Get a neck pillow, they actually are useful. One with a hood is even better. Wear comfortable socks and take your shoes off. If you score three seats then that’s three pillows and three blankets just for you so use them. The temperature can and will fluctuate on longer flights so wear your layers.
Drink plenty of water. I know you’ve heard it before but it’s essential. There are few dryer places in this world that a pressurised cabin at 36,000 feet. Don’t down 2 gallons as you board though because you’ll be up and down to the can like a yoyo. Start regulating your intake hours before departure and throughout the flight. Use that pantry at the rear of the plane to keep topping up whatever beverage you have in your hand.
Abide by these tips and you will have an enjoyable experience. Remember these tips are for long haul full service airlines only and will not be much use on your Ryanair flight from Stansted to Bucharest!